Instagram has turned into The App for Activism this past year, and for the most part that’s a really good thing. But I keep seeing certain behaviors around the whole practice that perturb me slightly (read: make my blood boil), and I know I’m not the only one who gets irritated by them. So here is a comprehensive list on how to do activism on Instagram the right way!
DO NOT BE PERFORMATIVE. It looks absolutely horrible when you’re only being an activist for clout, for the “trend”, or to fit in, and then you don’t practice what you preach. It’s fake, hypocritical, and ugly. Sign the petitions you share. Donate to the causes you link. Show up to the protests you’re letting people know are happening. Email, call, and write to the government workers you list. Above all, mean what you say when you say it. Your heart must truly be in the fight.
Fact-check the information before sharing it. So many infographics/demographics get mass-shared that are completely inaccurate for one reason or another, and sometimes photos “at the scene” of events were taken at completely different times in different locations. Don’t spread false information! Make sure your information is coming from a reputable source or that it’s directly connected to reputable sources.
The information you share really really really does NOT have to look aesthetic. An aesthetic won’t benefit what you’re fighting for. Might it attract more viewers so they can see what you’ve shared and learn something? Possibly, but pleasing your viewers should not be the point. The information is infinitely more important than how it’s presented.
Try not to share exactly what everybody else is sharing. People are more likely to tap right past your Instagram story if they’ve already seen the exact same post eight hundred times (or if they’ve posted it themselves). Seek out posts to share that are just as informative/important but perhaps have less attention attached to them, whether they are from smaller accounts or otherwise. Know though that if your account is public, posting content from smaller accounts helps those accounts a lot.
Do NOT post photos of yourself immediately after posting about your activism. It makes your activism look incredibly performative (see item 1). The message you’re sending is, “Great, I posted some activism content, now I look good to everybody else and I can go ahead and post what I want!” Shut up. Your need for empty validation can wait until the activism Instagram story expires, at the very very least. [bf_image id="qdvjos-d42d2g-bqfqyd"]
Save what you share on Instagram stories to a highlight. That way you--and anyone who checks out your profile--can go back to the (very important) information you shared if need be. It also shows you truly care about the causes you’re posting about, because you’re ensuring that they last longer than 24 hours on your page.
Create a Linktree so you can easily link multiple organizations to your bio. You won’t have to pick and choose which organization you link on your bio if you link all of them at once! Anyone who taps the Linktree link will be able to see all the causes you’re fighting for--and they’ll easily be able to support them too.
Hope is significantly kinder than doom. I am much more drawn to people’s posts that feature themes such as hope, courage, determination, togetherness, and all that good stuff. I’m turned off by pessimistic posts that claim (or imply that) literally everything in the world sucks, because it doesn’t! The fact that people are protesting/being activists already shows that there is at least some good in the world because people are fighting for positive change and are able to do so. I’m an optimist at heart, but I know I’m not the only one.
Now go forth with this list and be the best activist you can be!